New law holds online companies responsible for content posted by sex traffickers

- Sen. Amy Klobuchar authorized a bipartisan bill, which prevents online companies from claiming they were merely third parties and not responsible for the content posted by sex traffickers this week. 

The bill was controversial at first since several tech companies saw it as an intrusion into the internet, however they eventually came around Klobuchar said. The new law will also make it easier for states to bring civil action against websites where sex trafficking may be taking place. 

“We’ve known for years it’s the internet and the facilitator that is profiting off of pimping—as well as the pimps,” said Terry Forliti, the executive director of Breaking Free. 

The same week the bill to help fight online sex trafficking was signed into law, a top official for Backpage.com—which has been referred to as an online brothel—appeared in court. 

Thursday, Chief Executive Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty in state courts in California and Texas and in federal court in Arizona to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to facilitate prostitution. He also agreed to testify against the men who cofounded Backpage.com with him, along with three other top officials. 

“One of the ways they got these guys… was on money laundering, because he could no longer access the credit cards,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “So he was going around doing fake money laundering to try and process the sex trafficking business he was doing.” 

“As a survivor myself, I just want to say thank you,” Forliti said to those who worked on the bill. “This means more than anything that enough people care to shut this horrible, heinous service down.” 

Some argued that the fallout is both good and bad, saying victims will likely turn to other illegal activity as they are pressured to make money. 

Since Backpage.com was seized by the FBI last week, other similar sites have seen an increase in sex trafficking. 
 

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